Libraries should be the king of cause marketing and yet we often miss the mark. Shiv Singh and Peter Carter write about the winner of this year's Effies Award in the Harvard Business Review. No, not a library but close- the Detroit Public Schools. The campaign increased enrollment and brought in $49 million in incremental funding. Not bad. They outlined five lessons in the blog .
1. Cause marketing matters more than ever. We live in a difficult world. Through these difficult times we expect brands to do more for our communities. If they take the lead, we'll reward them. The Detroit Public Schools campaign and Ford's "Drive One 4 UR School" are perfect example of this. People are excited to rally around important causes and brands that engage authentically in this effort can benefit too. The critical factor is to find a cause that authentically relates to your brand's equity and culture.
2. Taking the right posture in an economic downturn can bring success. The economic downturn caused a lot of suffering, but it also created an opportunity for brands to say, "We understand what you're going through and we are going to do something different as a result." Programs that did well in 2010 were ones that understood the impact of the economic crisis and responded to it with the appropriate voice and tone. For example, Hyundai brought compassion and assurance to a new car purchase by offering to refund your money if you lost your job.
3. Advertising is dead, long live advertising. There's a meme in the world of business that consumers do not like advertising and even more broadly, that marketing communications does not work. If there's anything that the finalists and the winner showed is that there's a very direct line from successful marketing programs to an organization's bottom line. The Detroit Public Schools turned around a 10 year decline in enrollment with some paint and lumber. Hyundai was the only car company to grow while their other competitors declined by up to 40%.
4. Resonance, resonance resonance. We live in a cluttered media ecosystem. For a message to break through, it needs to resonate with customers. That's what Apple did with "There's an App For That" campaign, where different iPhone applications were matched with corresponding print publications. For example, the advertisement in Gourmet magazine only promoted food related applications. Simple but powerful. The Detroit Public Schools took their message to the streets, neighborhoods, and local events frequented by the residents of Detroit.
5. Marketing means creating movements. There is no doubt about it that the most effective marketing programs are the ones that rally people, encourage them to serve as social voices for the brands, and make them feel like they are part of something greater.
The Detroit Public Schools is a brilliant example of all that works in marketing in 2010. It had a simple and emotionally compelling idea. It had disruptive and brilliant creative executions. And it leveraged the power of personal persuasion to generate outstanding results. As judges, we had to compare the impact of a national effort like Hyundai "Assurance" with a local effort like DPS's "I'm In." In the end, we made our decision based on the magnitude of the challenge. Many of the finalists required people to change their minds or make major purchases during an economic downturn. The DPS "I'm In" campaign encouraged over 6,000 more people to put their most precious possession on the line — their child's future. That's great marketing."
What is the compelling cause that would have people rally around your library? For those of us who were faced with cut budgets, we were able to rally people to keep our doors open. That's great, but crisis marketing aside, what else is it about your library and what you do for your community that that would compel people to put lawn signs up on their front lawn? That's the starting point for a great campaign.